I happily introduce to you this beautiful and kind woman Lotte! Lotte was one of the first women who responded so enthusiastically to this project I recently started. A project focusing on women's empowerment by women, where I photograph them uncovered, BARE. Where I give them a place to be seen and heard. You can read more about the project 'Women Bare' over here. After she reached out to me I could hardly wait to meet her for our little session and when I finally came to her home she was about 39 weeks pregnant and carrying her second child. She looked amazingly radiant and excited to meet her little girl soon. We sat down for a cup of tea and soon began to chat about all sorts of things. We talked about following your heart despite what other people might think, about being pregnant while chasing a toddler, about education (we happen to both be teachers) and much more. I enjoyed our time together very much and I am incredibly thankful for the trust and vulnerability she has come to me with.
These are two pictures of our shoot together and the words she'd like to share with us:
A strong woman
From my point of view a strong woman is a woman who manages to live her own life. A person who can cope on her own, both mentally and financially and dares to be independent. A woman who can and wishes to make her own decisions; searches for happiness in her life without depending on other people.
A strong woman is moreover someone who sets her goals and achieves them, but not at the cost of everything. For example, at work a woman can be very ambitious, with the result that other people (women) talk behind her back, because they are jealous of her achievements. The power of a strong woman lies in her capability to show her skills without making other people feel bad. I believe you can recognize strong women by their attitude and charisma. They ooze strength and courage, they glow.
To me, my mother sets the example of a strong woman. Already at an early age she had to make difficult decisions. Her family life wasn’t exactly smooth and still she did everything to become the woman she is now; a strong independent woman, who has given all to grow and develop herself. This process wasn’t always easy, but she persevered. When we were little she made the hard decision to separate from my father and to choose for us, her children. This is only possible when you are strong. She has remained single all those 26 years. And in my eyes she has proved to be very strong, because she really did everything on her own. She has set the example that a woman can do everything on her own, she doesn’t have to be dependent on a man or anyone else. She showed me how to be a role model for other women and for my own children.
"Strenght also means to have the
courage to show your flaws and
A strong woman doesn’t have to be tough all the time, strenght also means to have the courage to show your flaws and insecurities. That you do not fear to make mistakes, but learn from them and go on to achieve your goal.
Two years ago I met my neighbours, two women who are married and have a family of two daughters. I really think they are strong women. They meet their challenges, do not give up and at the same time show their vulnerability. Despite the fact we feel they belong to our society and their background doesn’t matter to us, I am confronted with the difficulties they come across to be accepted for who they are. For example, choosing a school for their children is a big decision. It is of course vital for their kids that their sexual inclination is accepted. To me that is without doubt, but they realise it is still not generally accepted. They keep this in mind without denying and nullifying themselves. I admire that and I think they are strong. Both their daughters are raised that way. They involve their children in their discussions and are always open to their arguments.
I try to pass these valuable lessons about life I saw and learned from my mother on to my children. I have two daughters and I hope I can give them the same and show them you can be strong as a woman, that you must and can make your own choices. I didn’t walk the smooth path either when I was young. I had to conquer several difficulties, but it made me stronger. I know now I can cope life on my own and that the people around me add to the wonderful life I live. I do not fear for example not to be able to carry on when my relationship stops or when I lose my job. I know I will do everything in my power to make sure I will lead a good life. Moreover I realise I will not avoid emotional problems but deal with them, because I know it will make me stronger.
"I thought I could conquer the world."
Listening to your heart also helps you to become stronger. I followed my heart on a number of occasions and it really worked so well. In one of those situations I met the love of my life. I thought I could conquer the world, work abroad without family and friends, with only new people around. These situations indeed make you strong. On another occasion my friend and I decided to ignore all the uninvited advice we got and left Amsterdam to move to the east of The Netherlands. Not an easy choice, not only because of our jobs, but also because we were emotionally connected to Amsterdam. But eventually this too made me stronger and I am very grateful for the life I lead now!